When it comes to the World Wide Web and the sites that live upon it, some small business owners can be a little naive about how it all works.
There are so many aspects to take into account – domain names, hosting, email accounts, analytics, SEO and social media to name just a few of the items that need to be taken into consideration when getting a business online.
That’s why business owners like to hand over all those aspects to their website developer and say “please take care of this for me!”
There is a lot of trust being placed in that last statement – websites can be a big investment and, as a small business owner, you need to be able to rely upon your website “guys” to do the right thing. But, as in other industries, there are people who will take advantage of this.
If you are about to embark on the process of getting a web designer, or your current designer just doesn’t “feel right”, a little research will guide you to a reputable website design business.
Take a look at the websites of businesses in your immediate network (probably not your competitors). If possible, ask the business owners some key questions about their sites:
- Who was their designer?
- Who they would recommend and why?
- Is the site generating the business that they need?
- Is the site difficult to update?
- What was the design process like when working with the web developer?
Positive testimonials work for all industries including web design so find out who would do the best job for your particular business.
Check out the web designer’s current portfolios.
All reputable designers will display their work on their own websites so check them out. Make sure that they can deliver styles that are current (not from the late 90’s) and relevant to your business.
Check for generic design Themes
One very important aspect that needs to be checked to ensure that you don’t get ripped off – make sure that you are not going to be paying for a generic template unless it has been made very clear that is exactly what you are paying for. These templates are not created just for your business and may have been used thousands of times. Working with anyone that uses them can be dangerous as the “designer” may not have the skills to create / modify / reprogram the design to your specific needs.
A quick way to check for generic templates:
- Go to one of the sites they have “built” and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your web browser.
- Go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and paste the URL into the box provided.
This site quickly looks through the code and will tell you if the site is designed with the WordPress CMS (which is fine) and what theme the site is created with. If that theme is commercially available, this site will also tell you where you can buy it.
Too many times, I have seen so-called “Web Designers” that charge their customers exorbitant amounts of money for “designing” a site which can be purchased elsewhere for a little as $30! All the “designer” does is change the imagery and add some text.
A website should be seen as exactly the same as any other investment in your business. You would research any new equipment or plant that you are purchasing for your business, so why not research who is going to build your website – the marketing tool that can drive business straight your door.
Without an effective website, built by someone who cares specifically about your business, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table from potential clients and digging a big hole in your marketing budget.